Child rights activists, the police, City and provincial authorities have all expressed their concern over the safety of children left unattended and exposed to danger, especially on the Cape Flats during the festive season.
These fears emerge as a report by the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital revealed that a staggering 635 incidents involving violence against children had been treated between January and October this year. Of particular concern in the report were 19 cases of neglect, 175 of physical abuse and 92 cases of sexual abuse, representing 66% of all cases.
Principal communications officer at the hospital Dwayne Evans said the hospital is appealing to members of the public to reach out to children and to prioritise the safety of children under their care ahead of the upcoming festive season.
The hospital said the statistics of this year’s cases showed an association between the high number of patients admitted to the hospital, and domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse by negligent carers.
Child Rights activist Lucinda Evans said parents should organise supervision for their children when they go to work. She said this is because most working parents have the school as their primary care-giver of the children when school is open. Now for the next six weeks, the school is not there and the parents have to make alternative arrangements.
She said when these children are left to their own devices is when there are these rapes, abductions and killings.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said there is an extensive holiday programme that targets both primary and high school learners and that programme started on the day that the schools officially closed. Fritz said they partner with the religious sector to assist with the programme.
Mayor Dan Plato said with the extensive list of activities provided by the different City departments, parents can be at ease at work, knowing their children are kept busy and safe.
Community activist Roegchanda Pascoe, from Manenberg, blamed increasing individualism in society for the harm that comes to children.
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said they were concerned about the easy access to the internet. He said children must be closely monitored when they are online and should be educated on what sites they should and should not visit.
Unsupervised children could be exposed “to all types of dangers including child porn and suicides”.
More: Cape Argus